Achyrachaena mollis, Blow-wives

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Achyrachaena mollis

Blow-wives has an unusual flower that might fool you into thinking it's a bud. It shows yellow tips wrapped with sepals that remain in place till it goes to seed. This 1' tall annual wildflower has a sturdy stalk and really comes into its own when it goes to seed. Each pappus scale is a silky white, with a jet-black narrow seed attached at one end. Though they look like they are made to float away with the wind, they remain on the plant for a surprisingly long time, often forming glistening patches amidst the blooming wildflowers.

Blooming from late March-June, it goes to seed from April thru June. It is the only member of the genus Achyrachaena, and is found throughout California, both in wetland and dryland situations, including serpentine. It grows in other western states as well.